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Personal Income Per Person Less and Growing Less in South Dakota Than Nationwide

If South Dakota had “the strongest economy in the nation,” we’d be making more money than the national average, right?

According to the Bureau of Finance and Management’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2021, we’re not.

Bureau of Finance and Management, Per Capita Personal Income in South Dakota, Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, December 2021, p. 186.
Bureau of Finance and Management, Per Capita Personal Income in South Dakota, Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, December 2021, p. 186.

In 2020, personal income in South Dakota averaged out to $59,281 for every resident, working or not. That’s just 0.38% below the national average of $59,510, so we’re not that bad off. Keep corn prices up, and we might even get back above the national average, the way we were during the harvest boom years of 2011–2013.

Our per-capita personal income grew at a faster rate than the national average in 2020 (though most of that advantage may have come from the extravagant amounts of federal covid relief that we raked in as an apparent reward for not working that hard to fight covid). But if we take the long view (and economically, we generally should), over the past decade, per-capita personal income grew 50.42% in South Dakota and 51.49% nationwide.

So in terms of money in pockets, South Dakota’s economy is producing weaker results than the national economy.


  1. Donald Pay 2021-12-26 08:57

    Per capita personal income is not a good statistic. Most wealthy people don’t work for their income. They collect money from the appreciation of assets, which, of course, was benefited by the Trump tax cuts. Then there was the welfare checks written to farmers. Of course that per capita number includes all the government benefits handed out to all of us during the pandemic. When you get down to the real economy, people aren’t doing so well. Most are surviving, but not thriving.

  2. sdslim 2021-12-26 09:21

    I agree with most of Don’s comments. It would be interesting to see a break out of income for the bottom 1/2 of income earners. Even with the government help I don’t think it would look that rosy. Many in business made record profits —– Like the senators son who got huge payments of Covid relief money from two states — one he didn’t even have a presence in,SD!

  3. Donald Pay 2021-12-26 09:28

    Yes, sdslim, such a breakout would be more indicative of how the economy is working (or not) for people of varying incomes.

  4. O 2021-12-26 14:04

    I have to agree with Donald, reported income is absolutely manipulated by the wealthy in general and specific to our region by farmers ensuring they pay as little income tax as possible. I would think overall accumulated wealth rates would be the statistic to look at, but even that would have vast differentials within wealth brackets. The picture seems to be the the rich re getting richer, the poor are getting poorer (except for the amazing work the child tea credit has done), and the middle class continues to be squeezed out of the middle. ( even as that term gets defined to a top level far beyond what most see as middle class).

  5. Mark Anderson 2021-12-26 17:01

    Well Donald Pay, sdslim, and O your all absolutely correct. One way to combat this is unionization of workers. It would help but the individualization as freedom movement in this country has been the wealthy’s way to win.

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